Julita Wójcik: Wavy Block

Exhibition

Project was realized at a time when Polish architecture suffered from a full-scale superiority complex.

Thursday 31 May, 7:00 pm — Friday 31 August 2012

Platan Gallery

Budapest, VI. Andrássy út 32.

Julita Wójcik: Wavy Block

(...) project was realized at a time when Polish architecture suffered from a full-scale superiority complex. In many Polish cities (Gdańsk, Warsaw, Katowice, Wrocław), so called super-units were erected, providing more than 1,000 dwelling units. One of the largest super-unit projects was Przymorze, a post-war neighborhood in Gdańsk (firts designed 1959). The main author of the final layout was Tadeusz Różański (in association with Danuta Olędzka and Janusz Morek). The basic spatial concept was determined by rhythm of seven parallel, eleven-floor balcony-access building. They became known as ‘wavy blocks’ (falowce), as the different sections of the building were organized at a 165-degree angle to each other and the whole building was designed on an arc plan. The idea of an elongated shape had been inspired by an intention to harmonize the blocks with the  surrounding landscape – the seashore on the one side, and moraine hills on the other. The longest of the ‘wavy blocks’, build 1970-73 at Obrońców Wybrzeża St. 4/6/8/10, is at 800 meters, also one of the longest buildings in Europe. It comprises eleven floors and several large segments and can house some 6,000 occupants, with all kinds of services – hairdresser, bakery, groceries, laundry – located on the ground floor. Thus the ‘wavy block’ is a later variation of Le Corbusier’s housing schemes of the 1950s and 1960s. In 2006, in an exhibition called With Hope and Impatience (Z nadzieją i niecierpliwością) at Warsaw’s Kordegarda Gallery, Julita Wójcik, an artist known for her interest in domestic skills, presented the results of several months of crocheting during the longer winter of 2005-06 – a knitted model of the wavy block at Obrońców Wybrzeża. ‘She used several kilograms of white and pink crewel bought from a haberdasher’s store located at Obrońców Wybrzeża 4D. The unity of place and material was retained. The knitwear architectural form is exhibited on a wooden plinth-table designed by the artist that follows the curvature of the ‘wavy block’’, wrote the show’s curator Magda Kardasz. Also on display was a knitted model of the block at Mściwoja St. 4/6 in Gdynia, where the artist spent her childhood and early youth. The world of modern architecture serves as an important source of inspiration for many Polish artists. Inspiration, however, does not mean affirmation, and artists often engage in criticism of architecture as an everyday environment, or introduce an element of irony, playing with scale, surprising material illusions, as in the case of Julita Wójcik, who reworks the concrete legacy into a knitted form, as if commenting ironically on the monumentality of architecture. Artists have also called into question the seriousness of political metaphors. (...) When viewing the works of many contemporary artists who have no specific architectural background, one cannot resist the impression that it is contemporary art in the first place rather than a form of architecture asking fundamental guestions about how space is represented and inhabited today.

(Excerpt from the catalogue of the exhibition The Power of Fantasy in BOZAR Brussels 2011, text Micromegas, or Playing with Architecture in Contemporary Polish Art by Gabriela Świtek)

Julita Wójcik (1971) is a performer and an initiator of artistic actions. She is probably best known internationally as 'chronicler of the provincial home aesthetics’. Referring to everyday activities in her works, she blurs divisions between reality and art. Her performances are coloured by small actions, such as peeling potatoes in a gallery room (Peeling Potatoes 2001) or lecturing about abstract art notions to cows in the field (Unistic Landscape 2007), while her sculptures and wall pieces depicting communist era prefab buildings are also the product of a supposedly feminine activity: crocheting. Crocheting, sweeping up, cultivating a small vegetable garden, or setting up water holes in public places, building bird tables or flying kites are hardly activities one would think of as art, being more of everyday-life experiences, somewhat characteristic for a bygone era that is slowly falling into oblivion. The simple activities acquire a deeper meaning only when placed in an artistic context which, on the one hand, elevates them, and, on the other, strips art of its elitist quality. Demonstrating how art can negotiate with reality on an equal footing. Blurring the borders between what is agricultural/rural, artistic/idealistic and everyday/mundane, Wójcik offers an often humorous view of the human condition.

Opening of the exhibition: on Thursday, 31 May 2012 at 7 p.m.

Opening speech by Samu Szemerey, architect